Earlier this summer, a group of indie developers tested out a glitch in Red Dead Online that they’d learned of through YouTube – one that lets players push through the boundary of the game itself, to discover entirely new regions of Red Dead Online.
What they saw while beyond the boundaries of the regular RDO map include everything from incomplete textures on the landscape to lakes that can be viewed through mountains, and even animals holding back from attacks – letting the players view their details up close.
We interviewed the group of players via email – known as The Grannies – who pushed through the barrier and still ride off into the expansive, unknown regions on the map in the wild west.
Getting Beyond the Wall
“I think it’s important to point out that the out-of-bounds area isn’t a ‘glitch’ as such,” another member of The Grannies, Ian McLarty (developer of Jumpgrid) said. “It’s just what happens to be outside of the main map area. Obviously it wasn’t intended for players to visit, but it’s also not something that can be ‘fixed’ like a software bug. It’s just a by-product of how the game was made.”
McLarty said tutorial videos for glitches like these are easy to find, and after some effort (and a second trial on how to get past the boundary), it happened to work for them.
Andy Brophy, developer of the upcoming Knuckle Sandwich, added, “There’s been a couple of different methods to do this since RDO launched, but they’re almost always patched out with each update to the game. By all means, the one we use now isn’t meant to work — an invisible barrier had been put around the boundary of the map — but players still figured out a way to push through it.”
The Grannies usually have to also pull one another through the invisible barrier with lassos, as it can be tricky breaking through to the other side.
The newest update for Red Dead Online, Frontier Pursuits, can be seen in the trailer below:
While playing in the out-of-bounds area, McLarty said it’s easy to get sucked back into the actual game area if you venture too close to the main map boundary. “But if you keep your distance it’s usually pretty safe to ride around out-of-bounds, as long as you take it slow and look where you’re going.”
A World Beyond Boundaries
Marigold (Goldie) Bartlett, one of the developers of Wayward Strand, shared her experience in the beauty-filled outskirts and what one can expect, saying, “The out-of-bounds area circles right around to the South and North of the map. It’s huge.”
“Immediately you find yourself in a pretty regular looking area, with tall rocks and tufts of grass and so on, but 10 paces away and behind the tall rocks there’s suddenly nearly nothing, asset wise. There are textures, but very stripped back versions. Few rocks and bushes. The weather still happens. It’s breathtaking the first time, especially when you’ve been playing for hundreds of hours in a richly vegetated and populated world,” she explained.
Bartlett said eventually you find yourself back in those populated “regular looking” areas the more you continue riding around. The group has found natural elements ranging from glaciers to canyons, mountains, rivers, lakes, palm trees, and even roads — with “all of them acting with strange rules,” Bartlett said.
The physics and rendering of the elements can be hilarious, Bartlett said as an example. “Often, around water, you can ride a horse through the surface of a lake and run around on the snow beneath it as if you’re not underwater at all – but there will only be very dim light down there. It’s fascinating and wonderful.”
Bartlett also mentioned the oddity of the animals in the off-map area, saying it’s one of her favorite parts of playing past the boundary. “They will often spawn in groups of 4 or more,” she said, “Clumped close by one another, and stand idly. This allows you to take some great photos and get really close to have a look at the details on the models. They animate – things like grooming or defecating, and they’ll shake their fur if there’s rain, cower at lightning etc. You can kill them, and then skin them, but they won’t run from you.”
She said the rules among animals and players are unknown past the boundary, as recently they came across a pack of wolves who were growling and barking at them – but The Grannies were able to still get up close to them without stimulating an attack from the wolves.”On the other hand, Kalonica was riding along and got bitten by a lone rattlesnake out of the blue, so who knows what the rules are,” Bartlett added.
The first 17 minutes of Red Dead Online can be viewed below for those new or interested in the game mode.
The group experiments with other exploits and odd glitches, even if they don’t always mesh with their out-of-bounds adventures.
“We’ve recently been enjoying a different exploit that allows you to float very high into the sky on almost any part of the map,” Brophy said. “It’s not as accessible as adventuring out of bounds, you can’t freely move around, but it does allow for breathtaking views of the world of Red Dead that you can’t normally see.”
McLarty talked about why the glitched-out area is so expansive and how that piques their interest as devs.
“As game developers, it’s really interesting to explore and gives a sense of how the world was put together. A lot of the areas feel like they’re at different stages of development, with unnatural-looking geometry or obviously repeating textures. I imagine it’s what the main map would’ve looked like while it was being built.”
The Grannies named themselves after Kalonica Quigley (3D artist and game developer currently working on Wayward Strand, Untitled Goose Game and Dead Static Drive) made her character in Red Dead Online an elderly woman.
“Having just finished the Story mode and playing for hours as cool cowboy guy, I was very excited to play as a woman, doubly so as an elderly woman as that’s so rarely an option. What a strong and interesting character to be in the time and setting of Red Dead. It was a joy to discover in our first session together that Goldie had made the same decision. Being these two snarky old ladies, ‘The Grannies’ felt like a perfect name,” Quigley said.
“Maybe the name is saying something about our gang having the strength to survive and grow old in such a cruel and turbulent world,” she added.
No one from The Grannies has been contacted by Rockstar about the glitch, or their exploration of it, but Bartlett said she would love to talk to someone from the company about Red Dead Redemption 2
“We all loved the game, the single player mode really captivated all of us as a well-written epic tragedy that the genre desperately needed. RDR2 was, all in all, really special to us – very inspiring work. I’d love to talk to one of the writers,” she said.
We reached out to Rockstar for comment on this glitch and the players exploring it, but did not hear back by time of publishing.
What would you hope to find in the land beyond borders of Red Dead Online? Do you think Rockstar is planning on adding these out-of-bounds regions to the map someday? Let us know in the comments below.
Jessie Wade is Homepage Editor at IGN and finds the outskirts of the map fascinating. Connect with her on Twitter @jessieannwade about anything RDO.